User:Woozle/2008-07-13 comment on Majikthise

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I initially copied this because I wasn't sure it had gone through, but it did; having done that, I thought I'd save it here just in case (even though Majikthise doesn't seem at all the sort to delete posts she disagrees with):

I've commented pretty extensively in defense of PZ's "threats" over at En Tequila (long debate with Jon Pieret, who raised many of the same objections raised here).

I see PZ's words as intended at face value, and fully justified under the circumstances. In short: it's true that you shouldn't knowingly violate the rules of a religious ceremony, but this particular violation was a very small social crime (a form of rudeness -- I see it as equivalent to smuggling your buffet leftovers home, and haven't been able to elicit any rational explanations of why it's worse than that) even if we don't take into account the fact that Mr. Cook had intended to properly consume the wafer after showing it to his companion.

The Catholic community's massive overreaction justifies a little punitive cracker abuse (the only way to effectively say "get over it!") since it doesn't appear that anyone in the Catholic hierarchy is interested in listening to reason. What Catholics may believe about transubstantiation must not be allowed to affect secular law or one's standing in secular society -- just as we would not grant this same privilege to Muslim law or any other religious law.

If someone with standing in the Catholic community were to approach PZ and say "Yes, my community overreacted, will you withdraw your threat of desecration if I can get Bill Donohue off your case and an apology to Mr. Cook from his church for the way he was treated?", then we might be able to work something out.

I can see not wanting to "negotiate with terrorists"... but threatening the well-being of a 1.2-cent cracker doth not a terrorist make. They claim the ritual of the Eucharist makes it more than that, but to the rest of us this is mythology and nothing more; by insisting that we treat the mythology as real or at least relevant to judging Mr. Cook's and PZ's acts, they are violating our right to live our lives rationally.

Posted by: Woozle | July 13, 2008 at 08:51 PM

an earlier post taking a very similar tack to mine -- I especially like the boldfaced bit (boldfaced in the original):

I never assumed that Myers was joking. He may well be, but it doesn't matter.

I find his comments entirely reasonable. His frustration with religious lunacy is quite clearly apparent, and quite understandable. Any sane human being should be frustrated by a culture where abusing a cracker is an act of heinous blasphemy, one that can warrant numerous death threats. Why is he wrong to call this 'Dark Age superstition and malice'?

If you find yourself offended by his words, I'm sorry to hear it. Here's why I think that they're reasonable: what people (especially religious people) need to realize is that unless your beliefs have some basis in reality, other people have absolutely no obligation to respect them, no matter how strongly you hold them. I could very well deem eating donuts offensive as they are the living flesh of my toroidal lord incarnate, and this could inspire me to threaten people at dunkin donuts. If this were the case, a court would do well to find me insane and my acts criminal. Why should atheists and non believers respect beliefs that are by no means less absurd? The actions of the people who threatened Webster Cook are every bit as insane or criminal.

To repeat my point: if you can reason why your belief has any bearing in reality (personal convictions and supernatural deities aside), then you can expect it to be respected by a skeptic. Since I've never known religious beliefs to fit this criteria, I think that ridicule is a perfectly appropriate response. That it is considered rude does not make it any less pertinent.

And to answer to the anonymous poster above, by reality I mean the empirical reality that you so readily disregard. That's the only kind of reality that we can agree on. I don't grant that there is a holy ghost, the same as you don't grant that there is a donut lord. Now please explain to me what transubstantiation has to do with reality without invoking the Holy Spirit or any other supernatural cause. If you can't, then please stop eating donuts at once, you anti-Toroidal bigot!

As for the claim made by Bruce, that one is committing fraud by using a wafer for something other than its intended purpose, I don't believe the church can make any legal claim as to the intended use of their wafer once they hand it over. You may find it immoral, but I doubt it's illegal (whereas the subsequent bullying of Cook probably is) and to someone who doesn't accept transubstantiation it's hardly immoral. Calling it theft is certainly an exaggeration, and the fact that you call walking away with a cracker you were given to eat a 'non-lethal theft' that may warrant 'non-lethal force' is frankly more than a bit disturbing.

Please take PZ's message in context. He did not threaten anyone (the same cannot be said for the Catholics in this case). He simply suggested an act of protest against a campaign of intimidation and hysteria targeted against Webster Cook for no good reason.

Posted by: Aatish | July 13, 2008 at 05:57 AM